Vegan Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Vegan Stuffed Shells, a plant-based take on traditional baked jumbo shells stuffed with vegan ricotta cheese and spinach. Super easy, super tasty, and great to prep ahead!

vegan stuffed pasta shells on a blue plate with a gold fork

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Love stuffed shells but not sure how to make them vegan? I’ve got you covered! This plant-based take on traditional stuffed shells is so good, they’ll never know it’s vegan (and it’s approved by my husband, who was born and raised in Italy).

👉 Ready to learn how to make stuffed shells vegan? Let’s do it!


🍅 Ingredients

  • Jumbo pasta shells: large jumbo shells, or conchiglioni, are best for stuffed shells
  • Vegan ricotta cheese: buy premade, or make your own (instructions below)
  • Spinach: frozen or fresh spinach
  • Tomato sauce: covers the shells when baking
  • Vegan cheese: we’re using both vegan mozzarella and nutritional yeast
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs, salt
  • Recommended tools: food processor (if DIYing your cheese), 9×13” baking dish
jumbo pasta shells and bowls of vegan ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, spinach, nutritional yeast, and seasonings on a white table
Ingredients: pasta, vegan ricotta, tomato sauce, spinach, seasonings

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Preheat oven + prep ingredients

The first step in making stuffed shells is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (or 200 degrees C) and to prep your ingredients.


2️⃣ Step Two: Make vegan ricotta cheese (optional)

One of they key ingredients in vegan stuffed shells is vegan ricotta cheese. Most grocery stores carry a plant-based ricotta cheese alternative, however you can also easily make your own.

To make plant-based ricotta cheese check out either my Vegan Cashew Ricotta Cheese or Vegan Tofu Ricotta Cheese recipes, but here are the general instructions (for cashews):

  1. Soak cashews: First soak cashews by adding cashews to a bowl and covering with hot water to about 1/2 inch over the cashews (about 2 cups of water) and soaking for 20 minutes.
  2. Add ingredients to food processor: When done soaking, drain the cashews and add them to a food processor with plant-based milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Pulse to chop the ingredients until they are well blende: Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor to make sure the ingredients are all blended until smooth. Taste the blended cashew ricotta and add more seasonings, as desired.
blended vegan cashew ricotta ingredients inside a food processor after blending
Make vegan ricotta (optional)

3️⃣ Step Three: Cook and season spinach and ricotta

Add spinach and vegan ricotta cheese to a pan with a small amount of olive oil over medium heat to let the spinach and the ricotta release most excess liquid.

Add more seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, or dried herbs at this point if desired.

a pan with vegan ricotta cheese and spinach for stuffed shells filling

4️⃣ Step Four: Cook jumbo pasta shells

Cook jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions. For most shells that means to bring a large pot filled with salted water to a rolling boil, then add pasta shells and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Remove one by one and place on a plate or towel (do not add to a bowl or let them curl in on one another or else they may stick together and will break when pulled apart).

a pot with water and jumbo pasta shells
Cook pasta shells

5️⃣ Step Five: Stuff shells and add to baking sheet

When shells are done cooking, dd about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish so the pasta shells don’t stick to the bottom when baking.

Then take each cooked pasta shell and use a spoon to stuff the shell with the spinach ricotta mixture, using about 1 to 1-1/2 spoonfuls for each shell. Then place the shell in the baking dish.

Repeat until all of the shells are stuffed, or until the baking dish is full. Then top the shells with the remaining red sauce, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, and top with a sprinkle of vegan mozzarella cheese.

jumbo pasta shells stuffed with plant-based ricotta and spinach and topped with tomato sauce and cheese in a white baking dish
Stuff shells and place in baking dish

6️⃣ Step Six: Bake stuffed shells

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

a close up photo of vegan stuffed shells after baking
Bake 40 minutes

❓ Recipe questions + quick tips

How can you make your own vegan ricotta cheese for stuffed shells?

While plant-based ricotta cheese is more popular and can be found in most grocery stores nowadays, it’s easy to make your own from ingredients like cashews or tofu and some seasonings. Check out my Cashew Ricotta Cheese or Tofu Ricotta Cheese recipes for full details and photos.

What type of pasta is best for stuffed shells?

Outside of Italy you’ll find that most large shell pasta to be named “jumbo stuffed shells,” however the pasta’s Italian name is conchiglioni. But most any large shell that will fit a spoonful of ricotta stuffing will work for stuffed shells.

What vegetables can you add to stuffed shells?

Traditionally in Italy stuffed shells are made with a meat sauce, but in the United States and other countries it’s customary to make it with ricotta cheese and usually a vegetable like spinach. However, you can cook any vegetable and mix it with ricotta cheese to stuff pasta shells.

a blue plate with vegan stuffed shells with ricotta and spinach with a gold fork on a white table

🧊 How to store

  1. Refrigerator storage: Store leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  2. Freezer storage: Store in freezer-friendly containers for up to two months. Thaw by placing in the refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating.
  3. Reheat instructions: Place into 400 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
a white baking dish with baked jumbo pasta shells stuffed with vegan ricotta and spinach and topped with tomato sauce and vegan cheese

🍝 More plant-based pasta recipes

Want more vegan pasta recipes? We’ve got you covered:

a screenshot of Fork in the Road's 4-day plant-based meal plan
NOT SURE WHERE TO START WITH PLANT-BASED EATING?

Get my 4-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan to start your journey on the plant path.

a white baking dish with baked jumbo pasta shells stuffed with vegan ricotta and spinach and topped with tomato sauce and vegan cheese

Vegan Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Kristina Todini, RDN
Vegan Stuffed Shells, a plant-based take on traditional baked jumbo shells stuffed with vegan ricotta cheese and spinach. Super easy, super tasty, and great to prep ahead!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Servings 6 servings
Calories 476 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 food processor if making your own ricotta cheese
  • 1 9×13 inch baking dish

Ingredients
  

For stuffed shells

  • 2 cups vegan ricotta cheese pre-made or make your own*
  • 1 8-ounce package frozen spinach or 3-4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 12-ounce package jumbo stuffed shells about 16-20 pasta shells
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups tomato sauce about 1 standard jar
  • ½ cup vegan mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • Optional seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs

For vegan ricotta cheese*

  • 2 cups raw cashews soaked
  • 2 cups hot water
  • ¼ cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Make vegan ricotta* (optional, if making your own): First soak cashews by adding cashews to a bowl and covering with hot water to about 1/2 inch over the cashews (about 2 cups of water). Then let them soak for 15-20 minutes, or until the cashews are soft when chewed. When done soaking, drain the cashews and add them to a food processor with plant-based milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of salt. Pulse to chop the ingredients until they are well blended, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor to make sure the ingredients are all blended until smooth. Taste the blended cashew ricotta and add more seasonings, as desired.
  • Cook spinach and ricotta: Add spinach and vegan ricotta cheese to a pan with a small amount of olive oil over medium heat to let the spinach and the ricotta release most excess liquid. Add more seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, or dried herbs at this point if desired.
  • Cook jumbo pasta shells: Cook jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions. For most shells that means to bring a large pot filled with salted water to a rolling boil, then add pasta shells and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Remove one by one and place on a plate or towel (do not add to a bowl or let them curl in on one another or else they may stick together and will break when pulled apart).
  • Stuff shells and add to baking dish: Add about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Then take each cooked pasta shell and use a spoon to stuff the shell with the spinach ricotta mixture, using about 1 to 1-1/2 spoonfuls for each shell. Then place the shell in the baking dish. Repeat until all of the shells are stuffed, or until the baking dish is full. Then top the shells with the remaining red sauce, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, and top with a sprinkle of vegan mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake stuffed shells: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake another 10 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Meal prep instructions: This plant-based stuffed shells recipe is a great option for meal prep. Make this dish up to 5 days ahead of time and eat throughout the week for an easy lunch or dinner option.
  • Leftovers and storage: Store leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container for up to five days. Freeze in an airtight container or freezer-friendly bag for up to one month. To thaw, remove from freezer to the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat in the oven at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes for best taste and texture.
  • Nutrition notes: This recipe uses all plant-based ingredients, which makes it suitable for plant-based diets. Use gluten free jumbo stuffed shells, if desired. This recipe contains cashews, but if you’d like a nut-free vegan ricotta option try our Nut-Free Vegan Ricotta Cheese recipe. Nutrition information is an estimate and includes the homemade vegan ricotta ingredients, but not the optional seasonings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (about 4 shells)Calories: 476kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 21gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 954mgPotassium: 933mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1112IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 233mgIron: 5mg
Keyword stuffed shells, vegan spinach ricotta stuffed shells
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